Hockey Podcasting Was a Mistake

Now, it’s not about my career in podcasting– we don’t have the time and I’m already paying a guy to help me work through that.

No, it’s about the new Don Cherry podcast that’s going to be happening soon after the 85-year-old was booted off of the Sportsnet airwaves due to another crazy rant too far from the former Jack Adams Award winner. I won’t rehash that because what can be said about it that hasn’t been shouted back and forth into the void that is called the Internet??

Yet, Don Cherry starting a podcast just shows that allowing anyone to have a podcast was a mistake. You can say that for several podcasts about anything that has already been made, but now it’s being used as a redemption tour or a “I’m still relevant” thing for those who are well past their time.

But it goes back to my whole thing about the NBC podcast situation where they started podcast well past the time they should have for the contract with the NHL they had; we’ve heard the same bit from Don Cherry for decade– Canada’s great, foreigners are suspect, mangling last names. People have always had the ability to tune out when on TV, but now they can really tune out…unless they want to be the dog whistle for others and give this show more publicity than it should get– but that’s their own lane.

Anyway– it’s something that’s a mistake because we’ve heard it all before. Cherry has at least two books about it, a four-part CBC biography, and years and years of stuff on backlog that never really deviates from his usual gimmick. Knowing the history behind him, I doubt there will be any new listenership than what would have already listened already.

I guess it’s a good idea to keep Don Cherry alive because who knows what he would have done if no one paid attention to him after this incident. There has been studies that the grief of someone or something being taken from you can take its toll on the mind and body– which is sometimes a death sentence for those in an older age bracket due to their body not being as strong as younger people. If this is something that’ll bide his time; great. Like I said– people who want to listen and those who won’t, won’t. Simple as that.

Then after all is said and done, we’ll have to see what legacy people will paint him with– though they’ve already done that for a while as he still breathes.

Kovalchuk’s NHL Return Finally Halted

For Ilya Kovalchuk, his return to the NHL from the KHL was less like Jaromir Jagr and more like Nikolai Zherdev. This is due to the report out that the LA Kings will bench Kovalchuk indefinitely, as the 36-year-old winger is working on yet another underwhelming season after returning from the KHL.

Shockingly enough, the Kings sit last in the League in points with the fewest wins.

I think there were a lot of people who were treading lightly when it came to Kovalchuk’s intentions of coming back to the NHL after five-and-a-half season in the KHL with SKA St. Petersburg. However, his output in the KHL with 138 goals and 327 points in 298 games in the KHL made people think that he could come back to the NHL guns ablazing– especially after having two 30-goal seasons prior to signing the three-year deal with the Kings.

Shockingly enough, the oldest team in the league couldn’t get the success that Kovalchuk had in Russia to translate to their roster in a year…and now into year two, the same old stuff. Hell, after Kovalchuk got snippy when his lack of production of himself and the team made him a healthy scratch late last year.

God only know what he’ll say after this one.

The Kings, in and of themselves, are a mess. They only bright light may be seeing Drew Doughty body people and his little petty feud with the Tkachuks– mainly Matthew in Calgary. All around, they are a mess– 28th in goals-per-game, worst in goals-allowed, 29th on the power play, 30th on the PK; but at least they have the most shots on goal in the league…so that’s something. That said, they’ll make any back-up look like Martin Brodeur on any given night.

The Kovalchuk signing was an ill-advised one, especially since Kovalchuk had never played in the Western Conference, which many would agree is a much different animal than the East in terms of style of play and travel. But when a shiny toy with potential becomes available, you can’t blame them for trying. You can blame them for the three-year contract with a no-movement clause, which is also a 35+ contract…but we shouldn’t point the finger at anyone directly whatsoever, right??

Lazy Toronto Sports Media’s New Leafs Narrative

On a cold November night, a lone person is seen walking into a graveyard in Southern Ontario. Under one arm, Geiger counter; under the other, a Ouija board. They stop at a grave site and lay the board down, setting the Geiger on the headstone. When they get a reading from the counter, they ask; “As a former champion, what do you think the Maple Leafs need to win the Stanley Cup??”

I would not be surprised if one of the Toronto media scribes goes this route on their parade of asking that question to former Cup champions. It happened with Alex Ovechkin, it happened with Drew Doughty, it’s happened with Eddie Shack and odds are it’ll happen to anyone who’s name has been etched on the silver trophy. My biggest surprise is that Doughty didn’t rebuke what he said despite the fact there was a recording of him– but that’s another piece for another time.

The fact that the narrative now when it comes to the Leafs is asking former champions what needs to be done and mimic them rather than actually addressing the problems on their own is a bit odd. As my co-host Jonny P said this week, at this point just plan the parade now and maybe they’ll luck out and win the thing. What works for one team or one player doesn’t necessarily work for the rest of the NHL, especially not the Leafs who have plenty of dynamic players who may or may not be gelling as much as people had hoped or thought.

Let’s not forget the idea of people already are calling for a “Come to Jesus” kind of talk to happen with Auston Matthews. There’s always a constant panic in Leafs land when this team who was supposed to be destined for greatness (in their minds) isn’t taking the league by storm and steamrolling over everyone. They see the shiny things that are up front, but completely disregard their lack of defense– even with Tyson Barrie back there– and then have to wonder what the problem is when they haven’t won the Presidents Trophy by late-January.

But if you fire Mike Babcock, that’ll fix everything and make things better…except it won’t. Would it help a little?? Perhaps, but what’s the replacement for him and will they be any better with their scheme in order to make the defense better??

I digress– the point is that the new narrative set out that scribes are talking to other players about what needs to be fixed with the team they cover is not only lazy, but unnecessary for the task at hand. You get into a player scrum or request to talk to a player for purpose, more often than not, when you’re writing about a topic. Sometimes you’re in a scrum for a tidbit that drops and make a story out of that– sure– but to ask them about the team their facing and what they need to do to win a championship like that player gives a good goddamn about any other team winning a championship.

However, it’s instant click-bait material and something that the rest of the Toronto media will eat up like Tiny Tim with the gruel because they need the hot takes to fill the hours of radio and TV they use to cover the Leafs to appease that fan-base.

Hell, maybe it’s time to talk about how the Bruins are being so dominant that the Leafs could actually make it past the first round because they won’t be in a position to face Boston right off the bat. Maybe actually press GM Kyle Dubas about Babcock’s future and what’s needed on the blue line to make the team more viable as a contender when push comes to shove. Maybe actually go against the MLSE overloads and have an opinion that doesn’t go with the grain and actually has some kind of meaning to it.

…nah, that’s too much work and would take too much character from Toronto writers to do. Yeah, just ask other– more successful– players about how to fix the Leafs and see how that works out in the long-run.

Make It Happen, NHL; You Cowards: Women’s Hockey Edition

Huge preface as I know nothing of the inner workings of the NHL or the NWHL, but I do have an idea what would turn casual women’s hockey fan to an appointment fan.

Beyond the Olympics and World Championships, you need to have some kind of league to display these great athletes in their field. I’ve said it before on a podcast and on this blog that the women never to do a year-long tour to major cities to get people to know these athletes more (check with the Dream Gap Tour) and then they need the NHL to be involved somehow in a league in order to take off.

Elliotte Friedman mentioned on Hockey Night in Canada that The Athletic’s Hailey Salvian transcribed with her emphasis being a big reason for this post. Salvian also pointed out that Katie Strang wrote something in May about a WNHL for The Athletic, but the Friedman stamp is one that shows there’s some progress to it.

“If the time ever becomes necessary” and “in case” are interesting buzz words. The fact there’s this secret contingency plan that the NHL is holding onto seems like something that shouldn’t be a contingency plan at all. They tout Hockey is for Everyone and tout this Female Hockey Advisory Committee, but still hasn’t pulled the trigger on this league under the NHL banner?? What are you waiting for, you cowards!?

There will be a blow-back because people inherently think the way the NHL runs things isn’t the most ideal– but if the independent entities for women’s pro hockey hasn’t been able to make it profitable yet, you need to have the NHL’s back behind it– if for nothing else but to build a better business structure to make the players profitable and the league a boom for professional sports. Then, once things get good and there’s some semblance of structure on the higher end of things; the NHL stops taking full reign and more and more independence of the NHL happens, though it has the marketing and media backing behind it.

All due respect, but the NWHL being on Twitch isn’t going to be something that casual people will surf to when they’re looked for “Fortnite” streams. That’s a place where people who have appointments for the games go to, but you get it on NBCSN or even the NHL Network– it’s a big bump in eyes to the programs. The inability to have an accessible television coverage of the games is the downfall of pro hockey for the female side of it. The main stream coverage is needed because what happens after the Olympics if people can’t readily find the feed on their television or streaming service?? They’ll lose interest and move along until the next four years roll around.

If the NHL wants to do it and FOR SOME UNGODLY REASON is just holding onto it until the vibe is right…there’s no better time than now to do something like this than now; hell, even two years ago was the right time to do this. As much respect as I have for the DIY attitude of the people running the women’s professional leagues– there’s a time where you need to have the establishment to help back you up and get you on your feet before you really start to run away with things.

Take the exposure, take the business structure, and run with it. Don’t let the NHL shuffle their feet more than it has on this and push them to get involved in creating a league that’ll be stable and will have more mainstream media exposure and create more people into regular fans rather than when it’s national competitions.

ITPST: October 24th, 2019

It’s the second edition of the gimmick that keeps on giving. Hey, we’re almost across the board with teams playing double-digits games– which means we’re getting closer to that sweet, sweet playoff push.

Keeping it in the East to start, the Buffalo Sabres’ hot start (8-1-1) have them at the top of the Atlantic Division. Right behind them are the Boston Bruins (6-1-2) and the Toronto Maple Leafs (5-4-2). Who can’t wait for another round of Bruins/Leafs in the first round?!? Yeah– I could wait for a good long while. In the Metro, the Caps (7-2-2) and John Carlson are on a big streak after a rough start, putting them atop the Metro. Carolina have a little bit of a stall after a torrid start (6-3-0), with the Penguins right after them (6-5-0). The Wild Card spots head to both Florida teams in the Lightning (5-3-1) and the Panthers (4-2-3).

Therefore it’ll be the Sabres vs. the Panthers, the Bruins take on the Leafs, the Caps will take on the Lightning, with the Hurricanes and Penguins going at it to round it out.

Out West, the Colorado Avalanche (7-1-1) are ripping it up and are atop the division, with the Predators (5-3-1) and Blues (4-2-3) rounding out the tough Central Division. Getting rid of Milan Lucic has helped the Edmonton Oilers (7-2-1) put themselves ahead in the Pacific, as the Golden Knights (7-4-0) and Canucks (6-3-0) round out the top three. The Wild Card spots will be headed to Anaheim (6-4-0) and the rejuvenated Coyotes (5-2-1).

And as we see it– the Avalanche will duel with the Coyotes in the relocation bowl, with the Blues and Predators being the other match-up, as the Oilers will take on the Ducks and the Golden Knights battle the Canucks.

Heritage Classic: Battle of Atlanta THIS WEEKEND

Infograph via 16Wins.com

If you were under a rock, you may not have known that the Heritage Classic is taking place in Regina, Saskatchewan this Saturday. Well…maybe not under a rock. The hype for the Heritage Classic by the NHL hasn’t been that wide-spread. Sure, they’re keeping a player diary of the event, but outside of that– there’s nothing on their front page about the game that’s supposed to be part of their bigger series of outdoor games throughout the year.

Honestly, maybe there’s more of a spark when it comes to the event I’m not seeing being in the upper Midwest of the US. However– even on Sportsnet, their front page has nothing special about the game going on as of October 23th at 10:20 PM CT (time of this writing). When your national media partner doesn’t seem to have an interest in promoting it ahead of time; that may be a bit of a red flag for some people.

Yet, this game is a big outlier– as it’s a neutral site game in a predominantly junior hockey area, hoping there’s enough interest in the game from that region that they don’t have to rely on people from Calgary or Winnipeg to venture out and see this event. It doesn’t look like the case, as according to StubHub (again, as of 10:20 PM CT on 10/23), there’s around 2,100 tickets left for the game that’s happening in a couple days. That either shows that the NHL, the teams, and the location aren’t marketing it well or the idea of this game is slowly dying into another thing taken for granted. Or the location of this game isn’t in a great area.

The fact that the main page of the league isn’t promoting an alleged special game is pretty criminal. You’d think for something like this, they’d actually want to try to make their money back for renting out this venue for the event and everything surrounding it. Maybe they were taking Canadian fans for granted when it comes to these games, maybe it was a bad place to have it, maybe it’s just a dying genre. Regardless of the excuse, the fact remains that when an event like this has this little promotion and this many tickets left when it’s a couple days away…not a great look.

Coaches Hot-Seat SZN

We’re at the point in the season where the crappy teams that aren’t supposed to be crappy teams need to make a decision when it comes to their coaching. There’s already been a hoax of John Hynes’ firing in New Jersey…though it may have been more foreshadowing that hoax. But is Hynes really the first guy to get sacked??

Sure, the look isn’t great when Tom Fitzgerald comes down from this AHL GM duties to be an assistant coach, but more over than that– the team isn’t great. We knew that they would have talent in Taylor Hall and the new blood of PK Subban on the blueline, not to mention rookie Jack Hughes there and Nico Hischier. The goaltending is suspect, but for some reason this team isn’t gelling as much as people had hoped. Is Hynes to blame?? Maybe, only based on last season’s lackluster performance and the start of the season– which is probably enough to shitcan him. With only one playoff appearance in his four-year (now fifth) tenure isn’t enough to cut it in a “what have you done for me lately” kind of business.

The Devils could be waiting for Minnesota to fire Bruce Boudreau so they have someone from the recycle heap to replace Hynes. Now, I can’t blame Boudreau for having around $41.5M tied up in seven contracts with some kind of no-move or no-trade in their deal. Who knows who would want those contracts– though maybe someone would take a flier on Devan Dubnyk at the price tag and capability. That said, it’s a common theme for Bruce– team has some semblance of success, then something just doesn’t click. Hell, he’s been fired for less in Washington and Anaheim– so I wouldn’t be shocked if he gets the boot in the next few games.

Now, Jim Montgomery is in a bit of a pickle with a 3-7-1 record as of this writing and he’s in his second season. I don’t know if he’s in trouble, but we’ve seen coaches get fired as a knee-jerk reaction regardless of length of tenure and if they should be given some time with their players. A very longshot could be Jon Cooper– only in that you look at coaches who have had success prior and then the team plateaus before getting a new voice in the room to carry them further– like the Penguins with Mike Sullivan and Dan Bylsma. You could lump Boudreau with the Caps being fired midseason as a reference, too. That said, should the Bolts do something odd or not be able to pick up the pace– Cooper would be fired, but not out of the job for long.

Coaches are hired to be fired and with the way the NHL goes– a lot of these guys will be rinsed, washed, and repeated for another club. It’s how the NHL works with coaches because people don’t seem to have patience for new voices when a known commodity is out there– shoutout Dave Hakstol. Four coaches were fired by November 21th of last year. We have a chance for at least two by that time span if things don’t straighten up. But you know we’re going to see those fired again and those who are out of work get the vacancies these jobs have created. Sunrise, sunset.

ITPST: October 10th, 2019

IF THE PLAYOFFS STARTED TODAY….we’d all be confused because we’re only a week and a day into the regular season. HOWEVER, this what the playoffs would look like if the playoffs started….RIGHT NOW!!

The Atlantic would have the Sabres take the top spot with seven points on the year (3-0-1), with the ultimate match-up between the Bruins (3-0-0) and Maple Leafs (2-1-1) go at it for yet another chapter to their wonderful tale of playoff enjoyment. In the Metro, Carolina and their eight points (4-0-0) would take the top spot, while the Caps (2-0-2) would be second, with the Rangers (2-0-0) being third over the Flyers (2-0-0) thanks to goals-for. The Flyers, however, would get the Wild Card along with Detroit (2-1-0).

Thus, the East Playoffs would be Sabres and Flyers, Leafs and Bruins, Canes and Red Wings, and Caps and Rangers.

Out west in the Central, the Blues will get top spot in the divison (2-0-1) with the Avalanche (2-0-0) and Predators (2-1-0) going second and third. The Pacific would have Connor McDavid and the Oilers take the top spot, edging out the Ducks on goals-for since both are at 3-0-0. Vegas would continue their playoff streak with a third place showing in the Pacific (2-1-0). The Wild Card would be the Jets in the first spot (2-2-0) and the Flames (1-1-1) would hold the second part.

Meaning– the Oilers would take on the Flames in another Battle of Alberta, Avs and Preds, Blues and Jets, finishing up with the Ducks and Vegas.

There you have it– the first installment of ITPST and we’ll try to do this every Thursday until the end of the season.

Quickly Thrown Together 2019-20 NHL Preview

You’ve seen the best– now it’s time for the rest. Let’s go:

THIRD TIME FOR FIRST TIME??: There’s 11 teams who haven’t won a Stanley Cup yet: Arizona, Buffalo, Columbus, Florida, Ottawa, Minnesota, Nashville, San Jose, Vancouver, Vegas, Winnipeg. Of those 11, you’d have to say that maybe four have a chance in Nashville, San Jose, Vegas, and Winnipeg; but the window is closing if it’s not already shut. Of course, they said that about the Caps two years back and they lifted the Stanley Cup.

HUNT FOR 50: Will Alex Ovechkin hit the 50-goal mark for the ninth time?? Odds are pretty good given he has four of the last five 50-goal season, including last year. And let’s be completely honest– Wayne Gretzky’s goal-record is out of reach for Ovechkin. Even as a Caps fan, it’s not something I think is attainable. However, tying the mark for most 50-goal campaigns in a career with Gretzky and Mike Bossy?? Much more than attainable.

YOUNG GUNS ON THE HUDSON: You could argue that with Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko; the Devils and Rangers could be the best rivalry coming back– akin to Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby pumping new life in to a Caps-Pens rivalry that was fading into obscurity. Two young talents, ready to take over the New York Market in a big way, which the media there will undoubtedly eat up, overanalyze, and do their best to be like Toronto sports media figures.

McPLAYOFFS: Depending on what you believe, there’s frustration with Connor McDavid and the Oilers not making it to the playoffs but once in his tenure there. It’s a tough pill to swallow when you have one of the best players in the league not being on the biggest stage for the biggest trophy every year. Will that help with Mike Smith and James Neal coming from Calgary while Milan Lucic went south on the QE2?? The Neal part may help a little, but I’m not a believer in the defense and goaltending for Edmonton one bit.

RETOOLING EARLIER DYNASTIES: Both the Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks had less than desirable finishes, with both teams looking to retool heading into this season. With both playing in divisions that may be tougher than they look, it might be an uphill battle. I wouldn’t put too much money down on either of them making it too far if they do make the playoffs.

WORTH THE WAIT??: A lot of restricted free agents waiting until the 11th hour to sign, but is it something that their teams will be happy about or upset about should they not perform to the contract they were dealt?? Let’s be honest, I’m shocked Patrik Laine didn’t burn the bridges in the locker room already with what he said and it’s probably awkward as hell right now. The Mitch Marner deal looks like an overpayment when you look at other RFAs signing for a bit less than retail, but in the market space. That said, regardless of the price– Marner and Laine will be on the hot seat regardless of what their contracts were since they’re on teams that are supposed to be contenders.

SUNBELT RISING??: We all know what the Tampa Bay Lightning are– but do we really know what the Arizona Coyotes and Florida Panthers are outside of their team financials?? I would venture to guess that both teams are on the upswing, with Arizona getting Phil Kessel, Nick Schmaltz being healthy, and the possibility for solid defense. All the while, the Panthers have their goalie in Sergei Bobrovsky, young guns primed to really break out and put teams on notice, all while maybe trying to snatch a wild card spot away from others in the strong Atlantic Division.

NHL Going Retro with Green Day Pick-up

In a summer of bridge deals, the NHL signed one of their own– as they signed Green Day to a two-year deal with an AAV of three-chords. I used that joke on Twitter and it moderately killed.

I’m glad the NHL is bringing in the Broadway performers and producers into the fold and will be using a song of theirs for NBC Wednesday Night Hockey. And honestly– since Green Day missed out on the Wednesday Night Wrestling Wars that are starting up, the NHL is probably a nice medal for their collection. They can collect a paycheck for royalties and promote their apparently upcoming album.

Two great quotes from the press release were:

“Green Day is the perfect band for the NHL. Their music fits so perfectly with the energy, speed and power that we witness on the ice and each and every night. We are so excited to start this partnership with the NBC Sports open. It was so much fun to shoot and we think our fans will love it.” -NHL Chief Content Officer and Executive Vice President Steve Mayer.

“This NHL season is hereby known as LOUD season…where the toughest athletes to ever lace up a pair of skates meet the baddest rock band on the planet. So turn up the volume on your TV sets, fire, ready, aim and enjoy the ride.” -Green Day’s try-hard-to-connect PR staff

You know…forget about all the other bands who have closer ties to hockey– Green Day is the hottest act when the NHL was super popular: 1994. What better way to capitalize than right now?? Forget bands like PUP or Motionless in White or even the X Ambassadors for christ sakes– bands that were actually on the NHL20 by EA Sports soundtrack. The NHL needs Green Day….not bands that are on the scene now and actually have some popularity.

When all is said and done…it’s much better than the NASCAR on NBC’s annoying cover of “Runnin’ Down a Dream” by ZZ Ward that has been used for the past two seasons. It’ll bring some kind of energy to start and then soon wain in popularity. There’s some people who like Green Day still or remember how they liked them in high school and will be amped for this. That said, I don’t think there needs to be a band that is the opener for the event. It seems outdated and a little bit hokey to try and force synergy like this. Of course, that’s why I’m not the one making the decisions and just taking about them.